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Old 07-23-2008, 06:19 AM   #1
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I'd like to hear from (air bag suspension) coach owners who have replaced their OEM shocks either with OEM shocks or aftermarket shocks. Has the ride (bounce and jounce) changed for the better (softer) or worse (harder)?
I want to change to Bilstein shocks. I have ID'd the following shocks for the '03 Journey...
Front-AK1257, Rear-BE5-2581.
Thank you in advance.
Dave
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:19 AM   #2
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I'd like to hear from (air bag suspension) coach owners who have replaced their OEM shocks either with OEM shocks or aftermarket shocks. Has the ride (bounce and jounce) changed for the better (softer) or worse (harder)?
I want to change to Bilstein shocks. I have ID'd the following shocks for the '03 Journey...
Front-AK1257, Rear-BE5-2581.
Thank you in advance.
Dave
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:22 AM   #3
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I changed shocks on my '04 Meridian. Replaced OEM with Koni shocks, plus added Motion Control Units. Install was really easy, dump the air in the bags and than simply cut the airline 3-6 inches from the top of the airbag and slide the motion control unit on to both sides. The units have slip-on locking air fittings, so installation takes only a few seconds once you are under the rig to the airbags.

Replacing the shocks was essentially a bolt removal-install issue, except for the top front mount bolts which I had to cut off, since the leveling jacks hardware was in the way. I installed the bolts head forward so that the next replacement won't be so difficult.

For my test I ran several roadways and into driveways that previously would throw dishes from the cupboards. It was like I was driving a totally different well handling rig. This is the biggest improvement I have had with handling. Cornering on off camber hilly 2 lane roads was amazing, very little front end dive when the brakes are applied and very little roll on corners. I cannot tell you how happy I was with the improvement - amazing.
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:04 AM   #4
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Wow! That sounds like a major improvement. I'll check out Koni shocks.
Thanks,
Dave
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:26 AM   #5
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Definitely check out Triple T. They have a shock system for the rear that is fantastic for controlling sway - and it rides very well. If you've got to replace them anyway, it's worth a look!!

The bad news - I've only been able to find their website once, and I have been unsuccessful in Googling it. Maybe somebody at Winnebago could give you a lead (my coach came with them). I do know they make a kit for the Journey.
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:39 AM   #6
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Thanks Norm.
I'll check them out.
Dave
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:51 AM   #7
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Check out this Post It should tell you all you want to know.
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:39 PM   #8
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Thanks Harry, but I'm more concerned about harsh wheel bounce over road imperfections. I'm trying to control how the wheels absorb road shock. I'm focusing mainly on the shocks. I've heard lots about Bilstein and Koni shocks so those are the two brands I'd like to hear about. The sway that the Super Steer Motion Control System eliminates is not that much of a problem for me, perhaps because the 34H Journey has a short wheelbase.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:25 PM   #9
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I understand, however there was some reference to Konis in this post as well. This post is specific to Konis. In general the opion seems to be that Konis provide a smoother ride and Bilsteins provide more ride control but a stiffer ride.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:38 PM   #10
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Aha! Now that's the kind of info I'm looking for.
Thanks Harry,
Dave
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Old 07-23-2008, 03:49 PM   #11
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I changed from Bilsteins to the Koni FSD...much improved ride, especially over rough road surfaces. Also agree that if you really want to experience an improvement in overall handling (especially minimizing the sharp rocking of the rig when entering/exiting driveways), get a set of the Motion Control Units. They were absolutely the best suspension modification I've made to my rig.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:13 PM   #12
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I installed the Koni adjustable shocks on my 2004 Meridian. Any of the 3 adjustment positions helps the bounce and nose dive, but nothing seems to help the harsh jolt over chuck holes, bridge joints, or highway tar strips. The Freightliner chassis with air bags has just a harsh ride and no way to get away from it. I've had the coach weighed at all 4 corners and use Michelin's air pressure chart for the tires and also installed the Motion Control valves. It all helps the driveablity but still the harsh jolt continues. Upper cabinets shake and rattle just as with the original equipment. Can't get a Cadillac ride from a dump truck chassis.
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Old 07-23-2008, 07:28 PM   #13
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We don't have that kind of harsh ride with the Horizon. Must be the difference between a solid front axel and independant suspension.

Having installed the MCU's last year gave me a taste as to how good these chassis can really handle. Installing the MCUs did not increase the harness at all. Now I want to see if it further improves by installing Koni FSD shocks yet. Your shocks don't sound like they the Koni type FSD shocks given you have adjustments on yours. Eliminating the ride harhsness is the trade mark for the FSD shocks.
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Old 07-24-2008, 03:03 AM   #14
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When I was at Freightliner in Gaffney, getting the coach serviced and attending Camp Freightliner, I asked about future shock replacement, if and when needed. The comment was that the Sachs shocks that are on the chassis, supplied as OEM by Freightliner, were excellent and compared favorably to others on the market. You might want to check with them for replacement. I have the MCU's on the coach and they made a terrific difference.
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Old 07-24-2008, 03:14 AM   #15
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Wagonmaster2, you're absolutely correct about the tire pressure and harsh ride. I've adjusted my tire pressure and it helped a great deal. About four years ago I managed to get the Eastern Tech Rep for Winnebago to ride with me to see if the coach should be riding as harshly as I explained. He said there was nothing wrong with the ride! However, if I wanted to, I could change the shocks to help with the harsh ride. Needless to say, that's not the answer I wanted to hear. So now I just deal with it. But, now with a few more years and miles on the coach I thought I'd consider looking into the newer more advanced shock absorber systems out there.
Thanks for your information.
Harry, the Koni FSD shocks sound like worth trying, as long as I can get them for this coach.
Once again, thanks everyone!
Dave
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:21 AM   #16
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We went with the 3-T's front and rear packages (This is the company porcheracer is looking for). I not sure what brand of shocks they use, but it sure handles much better!
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Old 07-24-2008, 12:01 PM   #17
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I just ordered front and rear Koni shocks (p/n Front: 8805-1020 FSD, Rear: 8805-1022 FSD) for the Journey. We should receive them sometime next week and I hope to install them soon after that. I'll post after we've put a few miles on them. Here's hoping they'll help "soften" the bumps in the road!
Dave
p.s. Sachs shocks are OEM on our coach and my feeling is... any shock has got to be better than those! It's possible that 34K miles on the ODO might mean I should go for new shocks anyway. However, this coach (adjusting tire pressure to match the coach wight helped) always was terrible on bridge expansion joints, etc.
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:58 PM   #18
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Tagalong -- Please post your experience when you get the FSD Konis installed and tested. I thought the adjustable Koni's would help the jolts since there were 3 adjustable positions, and also the FSD were not available for my coach at that time. Will be interested to know if the FSD's would be worth the expense to change to on the front.
You are the first one to actually admit these coaches do ride very harsh, and hit the bridge joints very joltingly. Thank you for all your responses.
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Old 07-25-2008, 02:49 AM   #19
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Wagonmaster2,
I'll be glad to post a report when we get to do a test ride. I had a great email conversation with "Pam" at Koni and she was extrememly helpful and suggested I speak with their HD Tech Justin McCoy. The FSD is the only shock sold for the Journey. My guess is the FSD is either becoming more popular or it is a good design for adjusting to road conditions. (That makes sense. Who really would like to be routinely disconnecting the bottom of a shock to adjust it!)
Early on in our Journey ownership, I talked to a number of Winnie/Itasca owners (both gas and diesel) about how their coaches ride, trying to find out if their coach rides hard. Many said, no. However, over time of camping with them and in passing conversations I began to hear "grumblings" of how things "bang" or "hit" when driving over bridge expansion joints, etc. I suspect that some drivers (perhaps due to the noise around them in gas coaches) are not "tuned in" to noises behind them. Diesel pushers having a quieter driver compartment permit more interior noise to be transmitted through the coach. We've hit so hard, the overhead light covers fall onto the floor. Interestingly, others have reported in this forum about that, and even gave a suggestion to silicon caulk the corners to keep them in place while traveling. At one point, I actually thought the large slide out was not tight enough to hold it steady underway (but that's another story)!So, I don't think my Journey is the only one "banging" on bad road surfaces going down the highway.
When I first started bringing the harsh ride question up to my fellow Winnie/Itasca members, (about a month or two after I purchased the '03 Journey) I think many thought I was just a "habitual complainer." I've had several conversations with my dealer as well as a couple of techs out in Forest City and they all said, what I'm describing is normal given poor road conditions and the weight and size of our vehicles. You may recall I mentioned even having a Winnie Tech take a ride with me! (What really got me about that experience was that he actually suggested I could change the tires and shocks to make it ride better! All this time I have been reluctant and adament about paying more $$$ to replace something on a high $$$$ (well designed) coach to make it ride better!
Over the next few years and lots of general conversations I began to hear some very familiar and
similar "grumblings" about harsh rides from many members... gas and diesel owners!!
Don't get me wrong, my wife and I really enjoy our Journey and for all intents and purposes, given the fuel prices it will, most likely, be our last motorhome. Hence, we are now putting money into it to maintain it and if possible make it ride better... long into our retirement!
And by the way, even my wife has finally had enough of the "harsh ride," she's agreed to purchaing shocks as well! Next year or so we'll begin looking into tires because its nearly time to replace them, and I'm already looking in a larger tire to take advantage of lower air pressure... you guessed it... to make the ride softer! Thanks for reading and letting me vent!
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Old 07-25-2008, 04:16 AM   #20
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I had air valves put on my 1999 Winnebago Chieftain DP by "Rallys R US" and it made a huge difference. Same as MCUs but much cheaper. The wallowing is gone and the handling is much improved.
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